Creative Visualization and Imagery, Part 2: Language

The language techniques described here will help you to greatly expand your vocabulary, use different ways for expressing a similar idea, and will add color and excitement to your coaching.

In part 1, I discussed the physiological effects of visualization and imagery techniques and how the mind doesn’t know the difference between a real or imagined event. To the mind, everything we see, hear, taste, smell, or feel results in a chemical reaction in the brain. That incoming sensory cue signals the brain to release neurotransmitters in order to cause the desired—or habitual—reaction, such as increased or decreased heart rate or breathing, sweating, etc.
Indoor cycling instructors have long used visualization techniques to engage students. It was an important foundation of the Spinning® program founded by Johnny G, who was a huge proponent of engaging the mind to control and steer the body to exceptional performances.

You can enhance your coaching by making your cues more colorful and empowering with creative language. What you want to accomplish in the ride will dictate which technique you employ. Make sure to sprinkle a wide variety of the following methods in your coaching so you don’t sound repetitive. An instructor who uses too many metaphors or similes will lose their students and won’t sound as convincing.

Here are some language techniques you can use to help your students better tap into their own senses and apply what you are asking them to do in your class.


  1. I’m logged in but can’t view the whole article. Please help!

    1. Author

      Hi Andrea, you may have to refresh your browser and/or clear your cache. Sometimes computers get “stuck” on the last thing they see! Send an email to and we can help you out.

  2. Why is IMMERSE included as both a powerful and a soft word? Is it context? Inflection? Typo?

    1. Author

      Paul, you are very astute. That escaped a couple of pairs of editing eyes! It is a typo…but I was reflecting on it after I saw your comment, and was trying to decide which one is really should remain it (“Soft” was the intention, so I edited it). There are some words that could easily be used both ways, depending on the context, the delivery, the inflection.

      I use “immerse” in a sustained effort, at or below threshold, where they need to immerse themselves in whatever our focus is, whether it be pedal stroke, breath, a mantra, etc. I suppose it could also be used for a hard effort, with a single-minded focus that is not as introspective, but a gritting, very hard, push.

      To me, though, it has a more relaxing side. I also use it during recovery between hard efforts, or cool down, when I want my riders to immerse themselves with relaxing thoughts.

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  4. You have some dollar words here for sure, Jennifer. “Imperturbable”, yeeeesss. Love this. Well done.

  5. LOVE these word options to ignite my classes! THANK YOU

    1. Author

      you are welcome! When I need a boost in my own cueing, I even review some of the posts I’ve written, since I can’t remember it all. It’s nice to have it all down in one spot!

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